UK Life Expectancy Halts For The First Time, Figures Show

It's even gone down in some areas.
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Growth in life expectancy in the UK has come to a halt for the first time since records began and has even gone down in some areas, according to latest statistics.

Both girls and boys born between 2015 and 2017 will live to the same age as they were predicted to when previous figures were released for 2014-16.

It’s the first time there has not been an increase since the Office for National Statistics (ONS) began publishing the data in the 1980s.

A girl born between 2015 and 2017 is expected to live until 82.9 years old, while the figure for baby boys is also unchanged, at 79.2 years.

On a country-by country basis the picture is even bleaker – life expectancy for babies born in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has decreased by around one month.

There is no simple answer to why growth in life expectancy has stalled, the ONS suggested.

But it notes there has been a “significant” slowdown in improving mortality rates.

Jon Date, head of external affairs at the specialist think tank the International Longevity Centre, said: “It’s very hard to predict how long people born today will live, so the idea that increasing life expectancy in the UK has stalled should be taken with a pinch of salt.

“What is clear from our research is that the gap in life expectancy between the rich and poor is worsening over time. The reasons behind these disparities are complex, but it is utterly unacceptable to witness a growing health divide in 21st century Britain.”

Of the four nations in the UK, Scotland has the lowest life expectancy for a baby born in 2015-17, with 77.0 years for males and 81.1 years for females.

England has the highest life expectancy: 79.5 years for males and 83.1 years for females.

The figures for Northern Ireland are 78.4 for males and 82.3 for females, and for Wales the numbers are 78.3 for males and 82.3 for females.

The three-year period from 2015 to 2017 saw particularly high numbers of deaths across the UK in comparison with the years before.

In England and Wales, 2015 saw the largest annual percentage increase in deaths since 1968 – a rise that coincided with the peak in flu activity for the 2014/15 season.

In 2016, deaths were slightly lower but remained high in comparison with the majority of the 2000s.

And in 2017, deaths spiked again as the highest number of deaths were registered in England and Wales since 2003.

The figures were described as “concerning” by Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity.

“More must be done to understand what is driving this,” she said. “These figures starkly highlight the need for health and care services to adapt to our ageing population, and the government must ensure that these services can support people to live long, healthy, happy lives.”


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